Thursday, December 20, 2012

Calla Lilies and Peonies

Starting with a line drawing, I masked out the areas that were to remain light or white.  I also use the mask to act like a dam between colors like the lavender mountains and the white calla lilies.

The first washes are light; I think of them as place holders and use this first layer to tie things together.

Secondary washes begin to add the mid value shapes.

I have underpainted the pink peonies with a warm orange to make them warmer and more
harmonious with the predominant yellows and greens in the piece.

Finally the darkest darks and the details.  Sorry that the sidelight I used from the window for this last photograph shows the undulations of the paper....I did stretch it, but some of the staples hold more firmly than others so I get a little pucker action which I will iron out later.
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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Red Barn in Sequim at sunrise and Painting Shiny Things

This is the loose wet in wet watercolor under painting; the white areas are masking fluid
which both act as a dam between wet colors and reserving white and light areas for later.

This is a lovely 'old style' barn in Sequim; it's being remodled into either a shop or a home and I wanted to paint it before it was too 'fixed up'.   I love this place - I hope it shows in my work!

After taking Paul Jackson's workshop, I feel my watercolor painting has jumped ahead.  His hints and tips showed us that there is no reason to fear watercolor - almost everything can be corrected....thanks Paul!
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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Painting Glass and Shiny things

I just got back from a 4 day workshop taught by Paul Jackson at Ladyslipper
Studios in Sidney on Vancouver Island.  I couldn't wait to set up a
small still life and try out the techniques I learned.  Above is my reference
photo and below is the photo in black and white to help me judge values.

After masking out the whitest sparkles I laid in the first very light wash.

Then I masked out the leaves and tendrils woven into the damask cloth.

The next wash was somewhat darker and I made sure to move from green to lavender for interest.

 I decided to tackle the main colors of the stem next so I could mask it out while
I painted the body of the glass pumpkin.  I laid in the first wash of the cast shadow of the pumpkin.

After I masked out portions of the stem that were touching the pumpkin, I made
the first pass of the blues, violet, yellow, and green in the pumpkin.  I am using a watercolor paper that I am not comfortable with and feel I would have had a better, looser effect with Arches 140# paper.  I made a second pass at the cast shadow of the pumpkin and laid in some of the blue patches in the candlestick.
At this point I removed all the masking and began to add the dark details
to the candlestick, pumpkin stem, and pumpkin. 

I washed over the entire fabric area to soften the fabric details so they would recede more. 

Finally I peeled off the tape and signed my name, the 5" x 7" painting took about 6 hours start to finish and I created it especially for our upcoming Sequim Arts Small Works Show which opens at the
Museum and Art Center beginning on December 5th (I think). 
I hope you get a chance to come to the show!!
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Friday, November 2, 2012


 Here's the still life lit with one light.

A quick sketch with a #2 pencil.

I toned the paper with a warm, mid-value wash of watercolor in a reddish
color which will sparkle through the cool pastel colors I will use.

The initial pastel layers are loose and done with a hard pastel.

I key the painting by applying the light value that is the blue glass. 

I concentrate on adding the mid values, including glazing colors from the
background over the bottle that was too light.

The last step is to add the details in the lightest lights and the darkest darks. 
Three things fool us into thinking the bottle is glass; the sparkle, the
squiggle (distorted objects seen through the glass) and painting the background
through the shape so we feel we are seeing the background through the glass.
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pastel lesson: apples on a reflective surface (Kitty Wallis sanded paper)

Here's the line drawing in a neutral hard pastel. 

I used hard pastels to block in the darkest values in each area.
I now see that the reflection of the apple on the left is too wide, if I had checked the
drawing a mirror before I began painting I likely would have seen my error.

I key the painting by adding the lightest value, the highlight.

I neutralized the colors in the reflections by adding a layer of the warm brown of the table top.

Final touches on the fruit and some colorful background.  I now think the background
is too bright and energetic; it competes with the apples, my center of interest.
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Sunday, August 19, 2012

The upper Dungeness River at Heather Creek

Last week when it was hot (yes, those 2 days in August) Tom and I took a lovely hike along the upper Dungeness river and as usual I took enough reference photos to last a lifetime.  I couldn't wait to get home and get my brushes wet!  I am trying to get more comfortable with the system of applying watercolor in 3 layers.  So, here is the drawing with the lightest areas masked out.

I forgot to stop and take a photo after the initial very wet wash, but here is the painting after the first wash and with the resist removed and some of the second layers of paint  in place....notice how I jumped from the soft first wash to the hard darks around the stones - it was too great a jump and precluded many of the interim choices I wanted to incorporate.

Here is that painting as finished as it was going to get....I was disappointed and a little discouraged.  The reference photos have such dramatic lights streaming through the trees and onto the water and I wasn't able to capture it to my satisfation.

Here's the reference photo - I'm sure you can see what I mean.

So, I drew it again and put much less resist in the upper right area.  I decided I wanted to have the lightest lights included in the first wash.  See the color swatches on the side of the paper?  I mixed puddles of each color before I wet the paper so I wouldn't need to stop painting to mix more paint.  This also helps me have confidence that the colors I have chosen will be harmonious.

Again I forgot to take a photo after the initial wash was dry - I was just too eager to jump into the second layer I guess.  Even at this stage though I could tell that I was being more sensitive to the mid values.  I was pleased that they were clear and jewel like colors, not dark and muddy like before.

You can see the white of the paper on the right appears to be blue, so you know the color of the entire photo is too dark and too blue; the actual painting is lighter and has a more sunny yellow cast.

Here the second layer is complete...all that's left is the detail work especially in the lightest area.  So out comes the small brush and the new rigger brush I bought especially for branches and twigs.

And Voila!  It's finished.  Of course it's still not perfect, but it does capture the cool, frothy, mossy dampness Tom and I enjoyed that day.  I hope I don't always have to paint a subject twice, but if I do, it's a good way to capture what I learned the first time and overwrite that glum feeling of  disappointment with satisfaction!


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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Arches National Park watercolor and pastel

Large puddles of cerulean blue,  yellow ochre, rose madder are ready for the initial wash. 

I spritzed the paper (140# stretched) with lots of clean water then evened it out with a large brush covering all of my fairly detailed drawing.

Here are the first washes, I thought they were fairly strong, but as you will see later the sky could have used a lot more paint!

After the first washes were dry I masked out a few areas.

I begin laying in more color working from the distance to the foreground.

Here I wetted an area (the 3 gossips) with water then dropped in the colors and let them run together.  I am interested in having juicier paintings and this is a great way to loosen up in a controlled areas.

I have almost finished defining the major rock formations, notice how I left a soft edge on the lower right - this is so I can go into that area again later and the next wash will appear seamless.

Scumbling in passages of plant-like shapes in the foreground, trying for some diagonal lines with the greens and reds.

Here the painting is nearly finished, I have added pastel to the plants in the foreground.  I will drab down and soften the pastel plants so we feel that we can walk right into the scene without tripping.  As I mentioned at the beginning, the sky could have used a little more punch, but it's not horrible.  For some reason the camera is making this painting look pretty gaudy.  It's definately colorful, but not this much.

Arches National Park at sunrise.  I had add one more photo, it bothered me that the last one wasn't cropped properly.

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